Friday, March 29, 2013

The River Street Arch

The streetscape renovation on River Street has opened to mixed reviews.  Most agree that this project accomplished a much-needed renovation; however I have heard a number of concerns:
·       Batavia spent far more of its TIF funds than planned, which will hurt its ability to improve other targeted areas.
·       The remodeling resulted in a reduction of parking in an area that already lacked adequate parking.
·       The parking is confusing: It is difficult to identify where the parking actually is allowed and has resulted in vehicles being ticketed or blocking through traffic.
·       Batavia City Council hired design consultants without seeking proposals from qualified local professionals.  This alienated local design firms who have now missed an opportunity to contribute within their own community.
The city council is about to approve a design for the crowning piece of the project: the decorative entry arch.  What began as a line item budgeted at $55,000 was then increased to $90,000 in June, 2012.  That cost has now risen to approximately $120,000 when professional design fees and lighting are included.  Below is a rendering of the proposed arch.
As an architect, I am respectful of the efforts of other architects and designer professionals
I have tried to remain open about this arch design.  I have reviewed the drawings and the 3D images several times.
To call this structure an arch is not accurate. The design is more of a tiara, an intricate halo, 30-feet in diameter, hovering14-feet above the street.  It is supported from cables suspended from a heavy timber structure. 
I don’t think this design is successful. The timber and steel design does not fit contextually with Batavia’s historic surroundings, nor does it represent Batavia’s future. It is an expensive, garish structure.
I think we can better spend $120,000 of Batavian’s tax dollars elsewhere.  Or not at all. 
The city council will be voting on the arch at its next meeting on Monday, April 1st.  Please attend and voice your opinion. 


  1. As a resident of Batavia, a couple things bother me about the proposed arch. One, the move to push the arch project through before the Council changes, set to take place in the election on Tuesday. One alderman was quoted as saying, “[if they don’t like it] the next City Council can tear it down.” Really? This issue that has renewed controversy over the River Street project should be a time to re-evaluate the next move, not rush into it. Also, a claim made by a current alderman that no comments were heard from anyone, other than the residents on the 15 person arch committee, speaks of an alderman who is not talking with his constituents. My choice for alderman in the 5th ward, Steve Vasilion, knows my opinion: it’s not necessary, nor very attractive. Let’s talk about other options. Thank you. Jan Hofmeister

    1. Jan, I have seen it happen time and again that people come to council meetings to speak against a decision, only to be told that they should have attended the meetings held 2-3 years ago; that it is now too late to change things. It is NEVER too late to do the right thing. Thank you for your support.

  2. That's an example of some serious frivolous spending of people's tax dollars. If Batavia expects any renewed or continued trust in the city and what/how they develop projects, they need to do much more public scoping to see if there's a mutual interest, and allow people to suggest ideas (how else do you foster a community that values the project?) I think its great they want to build something for the sole purpose of being a attractive art piece, but personally I've seen Batavia residents build more attractive tree forts in their backyard with a budget of $1-2k.

  3. I agree, Classix. My entire campaign has focused on the *process*: the streetscape planners held public meetings a couple years ago, but that does not excuse them from listening to comments and criticisms offered up *today*. People now see the image of the arch (ugly) and the cost (excessive) and viewed together now conclude that it is a bad project. Thank you for speaking up. I will continue to speak up until the arch goes away.